Republicans are privately warning the auto industry that tougher fuel-economy standards may be inevitable this year unless it puts the pedal to the metal and significantly ramps up lobbying efforts. Democrats and environmentalists think an increase of three miles per gallon or more for light trucks and SUVs would force automakers to stop producing some less-efficient models. General Motors officials told Vice President Cheney this week that the company might have to cut production by 1 million vehicles a year if the White House boosted standards for light trucks from 20.7 miles per gallon to 23.7 mpg. A new nationwide Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll found that Americans would favor higher fuel-economy standards by almost a 5-to-1 margin.